There Came An Interview with Jason Wishnov
Iridium Studios is a company that has previously had much success on Kickstarter. Its previous project, Sequence, was fully funded using money from the crowd-sourcing website. Jason Wishnov and the crew are back, offering up something sure to excite fans of the Real Time Strategy genre. There Came An Echo is a very ambitious project, one that has a certain Wil Wheaton (Star Trek, Eureka ect…) interested enough to do some voice acting for it. The key difference between Iridium’s first project and There Came An Echo is that Sequence only required $600, albeit it actually received $2,602, whereas There Came An Echo, is asking for 150 times that amount of money. So why should you invest? I recently sat down with Iridium Studios founder, Jason Wishnov, to find out exactly that.
Velocity Gamer: For those who don’t know how would you describe the concept for There Came An Echo?
Jason Wishnov: There Came an Echo is a voice-controlled, squad-based real-time strategy game. (A lot of hyphens, we know.) The player uses a predefined set of commands to move their four units through a variety of mission types, the sci-fi narrative playing an extremely heavy and important role throughout.
VG: How much money are you looking for in your Kickstarter project, and what is this money going towards?
JW: $90,000. It’s going directly toward the hiring of an art director and 3-D modeler/animator for a period of approximately fourteen months, working full-time to finish the game. We’ve already invested in programmers, a sound studio, composers, vocalists, and actors (namely, Wil Wheaton)!
VG: In your Kickstarter video (below) you mention that There Came An Echo is a voice controlled, real time strategy game, are the voice commands preset or are there commands that the user can create themselves?
JW: Well, there is a list of preset commands, but we allow players to do something called “aliasing”. Essentially, every command in the game will have one “alternate” that the player can define. So, the phrase “everyone, get the hell down!” can be said, instead of the more traditional “take cover!”. In this way, players can completely customize how they control their armies.
VG: How solid is the voice recognition software and will it be able to understand players with strong accents?
JW: The million dollar question. It’s extremely solid; we’re using the Microsoft Speech Runtime Platform 11, which is giving us around 96% recognition rates. It includes language model support for a variety of English dialects (Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada), as well as other languages entirely. Even with an accent not listed above, we’ve easily been hitting 90%+ recognition!
VG: What languages will be supported by the game for the voice commands?
JW: The full list (albeit, a bit hard to read) can be found here: www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=27224
All major languages are supported…French, English, German, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Polish, and others! This doesn’t mean the game itself will be fully localized in all of these languages, but you should be able to command your units in any language given.
VG: What was your inspiration for There Came An Echo?
JW: Honestly, Call of Duty was a big one…not because we love the game, but because I found it very frustrating to have no control over tactical decisions, to be told time and time again, what to do and where to go. I wanted to be the voice in the earpiece!
From a more direct standpoint, Tom Clancy’s EndWar and X-COM: Enemy Unknown are prominent recent influences.
VG: You have had previous Kickstarter success with Sequence, did that affect your choice to Kickstart There Came An Echo and if Sequence had not been funded would There Came An Echo exist?
JW: If Sequence hadn’t been funded, Sequence probably never would have existed, which certainly means TCAE wouldn’t either. We’re really glad to have seen Kickstarter explode in the time since our first project launched, and we’re excited to be part of it again!
VG: There Came An Echo is slated for a mid-2014 release date however will you offer backers the chance to play the game in beta form, or will you only release the game when it is fully finished?
JW: No word on this one just yet…it probably depends on what we end up doing for proper QA. It’s important to make sure we have a quality product before getting it in the hands of consumers, even under the guise of “beta”.
VG: We’ve recently seen the announcement of the PlayStation 4, do you think there is any chance that we might see There Came An Echo on that system in the future?
JW: There’s definitely a chance! Sony has been very friendly toward indies lately, and we’d love a chance to work with them. But, we’re sure, many details have to be hammered out.
VG: Finally where do you think technology can take gaming in the future?
JW: Well, we’re really excited for the advent of augmented reality (Google Glass), and true virtual reality (the Oculus Rift). These technologies will create entirely new experiences, and bring us ever further into worlds that could only exist in the minds of others.
Personally, I can’t wait. =D
All of us at Velocity Gamer would like to thank Jason for taking the time to conduct this interview. You can find the Kickstarter page for There Came An Echo here.